Corporal Foday Sankoh! Why Sankoh was imprisoned on March 23, 1971, and why same Sankoh invaded Sierra Leone on March 23, 1991?? An invasion , backed by the 🇱🇷 Liberia's Charles Taylor's NPFL hired Rebels which resulted into a civil war that claimed over 75,000 innocent lives, and unquintifiable destruction of both public and private infrastructures.
Friends, brothers and sisters, I am not treating the causes of the civil war now. I hopefully properly go into that another time. I am just letting you know why Sankoh did what he did. Foday Sankoh was enlisted into the Sierra Leone Army in the 50s as a recruit. After his successful training, he was accommodated at Juba Barracks where he met Joseph Saidu Momoh, and both became friends, and later non-commissioned officers (NCOs). Sankoh hadn't the required educational qualifications at the time to apply for officer cadet training, but his friend Momoh had. So Momoh later commissioned in the early 60s after training in Ghana 🇬🇭, Nigeria 🇳🇬 and the UK 🇬🇧, in the rank of Second Lieutenant.
When the last UK 🇬🇧 Force Commander, Brigadier Blackie was released of his appointment as Force Commander (FC), David Lansana (SL 01) was appointed FC, and promoted to the rank of Brigadier. Colonel John Amadu Bangura (SL 02) became the Deputy Force Commander (DFC). Both the FC and his DFC were very close friends.
Few months to the 1967 General Elections, the Nation's Prime Minister, Sir Albert Margai had discovered a Coup Plot against his government in which the DFC, Col JA Bangura was named as the leader with some junior officers, mostly northerners.
The FC, Brigadier Lansana advised against a treason trial which his political boss and friend, Sir Albert accepted.
Lansana later recommended the posting of his military friend and former DFC to New York as a Consul which his political boss and friend, Sir Albert accepted. Lansana however did not take care of the dismissed junior officers which didn't go down well with their serving junior officer friends.
When the results of the 1967 General Elections were released, both the ruling Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) and the Opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) parties couldn't the get needed majority, but the APC commanded a simple majority.
So the Governor General, Sir Henry Lightfoot Boston appointed Mr Siaka Stevens whose APC Party commands simple majority.
As Stevens was about to appoint his cabinet, the Nation's FC, Brigadier Lansana declared Marshall Law, and ordered the arrest and detention of both the Governor General and the newly appointed Prime Minister, Sir Henry and Mr Stevens respectively. According to Lansana, the Governor General's action was unconstitutional. Lansana's junior officers, Majors AC Blake, KI Kai-samba, SB Jomo, MM Koroma, AR Turay among others also arrested and detained both their boss, Brigadier Lansana and Sir Albert at the same Pademba Road Prison.
According to them, their boss wanted to impose Sir Albert on the nation, but one school of taught believed that the junior officers revenged the treatment of their dismissed junior officer friends by Lansana. A Colonel AP Genda was first invited to lead their junta, the National Reformation Council (NRC), but later decided on one Lieutenant Colonel AT Juxon-Smith. Upon Juxon-Smith arrival in Freetown, he took complete command and control of the NRC. In addition to his position as Head of State and Chairman of the NRC, Juxon-Smith added to himself the positions of Finance and Defense and promoted himself to the rank of Brigadier. He then appointed the Commissioner of Police Leigh, Deputy Chairman & Minister of Foreign Affairs. He appointed the Majors into the other ministries - Education, Trade & Industry, Health, works, Transport & Comminication, and one police officer, Alpha Kamara to Social Welfare.
Juxon-Smith set up 3 Commissions of Inquiry to look into the activities of Sir Albert, his ministers and other public servants, and also to identify the winner of the 1967 General Elections. The Commissions' reports and recommendations of the consifications of Sir Albert and his ministers, and other public officials assets which were quickly acted upon. But the one recommending the immediate handing over to an elected civilian government was somehow ignored.
Mr Siaka Stevens who had earlier being released from prison by Juxon-Smith on medical grounds like both Sir Albert and Sir Henry, had gone to Conakry Guinea 🇬🇳, unlike Sir Albert and Sir Henry who went to UK. Stevens recruited a lot school dropouts and other jobless youths from Kambia, his home district, and other districts in the north and part of the southern districts, that became the Armed Wings of the APC, Internal Security Unit (ISU)
Stevens invited Col JA Bangura who abandoned his diplomatic appointment to join Stevens in order to train rebel to invade Sierra Leone to remove Juxon-Smith's NRC by force. Few other ranks headed by Private Molai pre-empted the Stevens/Bangura Invasion by arresting Brigadier Juxon-Smith, his ministers and even all other Commissioned officers, and took them to Pademba Road on the allegations that the Queen of UK had given officers money for the entire army but the officers have used some to buy cars. Wicked propagandas by the civilian political class.
Three Warrant Officers (WOs), Emandu Rogers, Patrick Conteh, and Kenyanyah (3 of them from Pujehun District), hijacked the Private Molai's led Mutiny. They formed Anti-Corruption Revolutionary Movement (ACRM), and invited both Cols AP Genda and JA Bangura to come and lead their junta. Genda turned down their offer, but Bangura who was already in Conakry Guinea 🇬🇳 just crossed over to Freetown.
Bangura formed the National Intrim Council (NIC) with the support of Sir Banjan Tejan Sie, and invited the two political party leaders, Mr Siaka Stevens of the APC and Maada Salia Jusu Sheriff, the SLPP leader to form a Nation Government with Stevens as Prime Minister and Maada Salia Jusu Sheriff as Deputy Prime Minister. Both political leaders welcomed Bangura/Sir Banjan Tejan Sie's decision. Stevens then appointed Bangura FC and promoted him to rank of Brigadier, and Sir Banjan remained as Governor General.
As soon as Stevens consolidated his hold on the power, he sacked or replaced all those public officials he perceived as SLPP sympathizers. He then encouraged the APC candidates who lost the elections to SLPP candidates to petition. The Bye Elections were ruthlessly conducted, and most SLPP candidates withdrew from the elections to avoid bloodbath. Houses were set on fire in Bo and Kenema Districts by the APC thugs. Perhaps the only SLPP stronghold which was equalled to the APC vandalism was Kailahun District which ensured that out of the 24 vehicles loaded with APC thugs that went to create hell on Earth, only 3 returned almost emptied.
Stevens embarked on doing worse things that the APC accused the SLPP Government of. Extravagant expenditures of public money which didn't go down well with the intellectuals in the APC. Bangura tried to advise, but Stevens ignored. The senior officers discussed the issues, and some reached at a decision of removing Stevens, and in their meetings Corporal Foday Sankoh snapped the officers.
Colonel Sam King (SL 18), Bangura's DFC, had introduced FC Brigadier Bangura over the national radio, after informing the public that Army has taken over. Brigadier Bangura talked very briefly to the nation after a Marshall music. Later next morning, same DFC, Colonel Sam King came over again to say that a large portion of the Sierra Leone Army had disassioted themselves from the FC, Brigadier Bangura's statement. And that they recognized Mr Siaka Stevens as the legimate Prime Minister of the Sierra Leone. Bangura and few other officers ( Majors Fala Jawara, Sahr E Momoh and Lieutenant Kolugbonda) were arrested, tried and killed on the 23 March, 1971.
Poor Corporal Foday Sankoh, a cousin of Brigadier Bangura, was sentenced to life imprisonment for alleged role. Some schools of taught believed because of the snapping of the officers in the meeting and his flilipamcy. Sankoh was however released from Prison after some 13 or more years. He decided to settle in Kailahun District as a local photographer with his plans to revenge his unlawful dismissal and imprisonment, and perhaps the killing of his cousin, Bangura on the 23 March, 1971.
Stevens then decided to appoint Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Saidu Momoh (SL 27) as acting Force Commander, and remained Colonel Sam King (SL 18) as Deputy Commander. He promoted Momoh to Colonel, and later to the rank Brigadier.
On 19 April, 1971, the APC dominated Parliament declared Sierra Leone a Republic with Siaka Stevens as the First Executive President, something he, Stevens and his APC had opposed Sir Albert for.
After killing Dr MS Forna, the Taqi Brothers who were the brains or the intellectuals that ensured the downfall of Sir Albert, Stevens was now firmly in control until the 1977 Nation wide Students Demonstration which started at the Fourth Bay College ( FBC) on the convocation ceremony on the 27 January, 1977.
The demonstration which was ruthlessly reacted to by the APC thugs and the ISU, forced Stevens to call for early general elections in May 1977.
Even with that APC took 48 seats unopposed, and the SLPP managed to get 15 out of the 29 contested seats. The SLPP again returned to the Sierra Leone Parliament as an opposition party.
The APC introduced the One Party Bill in the new Parliament on May 22, 1978. Something they opposed Sir Albert for. The Bill got approval of the APC dominated Parliament. After a referendum in June, 1978, Sierra Leone became a One Party State with Siaka Stevens as Executive President for a Seven year term.
Sorie Ibrahim Koroma (aka SI) and CA Kamara-Taylor became First and Second Vice Presidents respectively. Stevens, having secured the constitutional power to nominate some numbers of Sierra Leoneans into the Parliament without being voted for by the electorates, he appointed both his military and police chiefs into the Parliament, and further appointed both Ministers of State. Brigadier JS Momoh, the FC and IGP Bombay Kamara were now both Hon Members of Parliament and Ministers of State. The two State Security Institutions became completely politicized.
To be enlisted into both the Sierra Leone Police and the Military required a member of the APC recommendation. In fact for recrui intakes, one should be in possession of tickets issued only by the registered paid up members of the APC. Even good number of senior judges of the Sierra Leone Judiciary became APC Party Ticket Holders, not to talk of important State institutions. Between 1978 to 1980, Stevens had brought in few young intellectuals in the persons of Dr AO Conteh, Dr Abass Bundu, Dr Samso Mustapha, Dr Bu-Boakai Jabbi, Lawyers FM Mina, Abubakar B Kamara JB Dauda, , Theimo Bangura, Dr Shaka Kanu, Dr W Johnson, Prof VJV Manbu among others hoping they could help to bring about meaningful changes, but ahhhhh! When the erudite patriot Sam Bangura, the Governor of Bank of Sierra Leone advised against the holding of the 1980 OAU Summit in Freetown because of its economic implications, the brave economist paid for his strong position against with his life.
He was assassinated by Stevens hired killer, Highway. Everybody knew, especially the political class and the so called judiciary, but an eleven year old, Mabinti Bangura, a Niece of Governor Bangura was wickedly and ridiculously held responsible for her uncle death when the poor girl was even at asleep when the State directed murder took place.
Stevens handed over the Nation's Diamond Mining Industry to his Afro - Lebanese friend and business partner, Mr Jamil Sahid Mohamed to mine only both of them, and close associates.
Stevens legalized corruption by saying publicly that " we si you Tai cow na d e 4 eat," meaning in English that a Cow grazes where it is tethered. In other words wherever a public official found hm/herself, he/she should loot as much as possible. Indeed his public officials looted competitively the nation's treasury and resources as long as he was assured of his own shares. Ask Ngor Victor Foh of the Eastern Province Vaocher Gates in the late 70s and 80s when he was ADO and SDO.
Stevens took State money to build Kabasa Lodge, sold it to State, and urged the State to give him back as a birthday present, and was done by Parliament composed of many legal minds. Hmm Lord God help Salone. Foday Sankoh, after ten or more years, was released. He decided to settle in Kailahun District where he believed were more unhappy with the APC undemocratic rules, hence both the teaching staff and students were more many in the Sankara's Revolutionary United Front ( RUF) than any other academic institutions.
Additionally there were more Corporal Foday Sankoh's followers than one could image including some adequately educated, but perhaps some became too ashamed as a result of the barbaric and other human rights violations the RUF were engaged in.
By mid 1985, Stevens decided to get his replacement as President of Sierra Leone, but not any of his two Vice Presidents or any of the civilian members of his cabinet. To their surprise, he directed constitutional ammendment to pay way his Military Chief, Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh in order to succeed him as President of Sierra Leone.
At the August, 1985 APC Bintumani National Conference, President Stevens directed his 1St Vice President, HE Sorie Ibrahim Koroma to nominate Hon Force Commandant, Major General JS Momoh as the Leader and Secretary General of the APC, and was done, seconded by 2nd Vice President Lawyer Francis Mishek Minah.
At a national referendum in October 1, 1985, General Momoh, the only Presidential Candidate, got over 95% yes, and History was made, the first Military Chief to be elected President by the electorates. The likes of Dr AO Conteh and others who opposed Momoh's nomination, " It is inimical to civil liberty" Says Dr Conteh, started going to around the Murray Town Headquarters, where the General - elect was still there awaiting official inauguration before going to his State House Office at Tower Hill.
Momoh appointed Brigadier MS Tarawalli as the new Force Commander and promoted him to the rank of Major General. Momoh took along his Deputy Force Commander, Brigadier Sam King as his national security adviser.